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Main Campus · College of Social Sciences · Sociology

Sociology of Mental Health

  • Spring 2020
  • Section 01
  • 3 Credits
  • 01/04/2020 to 05/05/2020
  • Modified 01/05/2020


This course presents a sociological introduction to the conceptualization and subsequent treatment of mental illness.


SOCI 1101 or SOC 105

Contact Information

Instructor: Dr. Pam Hunt Kirk, email: [email protected]

Office Location: Pafford 205    Office Hours: Face-to-face:MW 9am-11:30a and by appointment; online: F 9am-1pm using Google Hangouts. Handle: phunt 

Meeting Times

Mondays and Wednesdays 12:30pm-1:45pm


Required Textbooks

There are two required texts that you will need to obtain for this course. They are listed below. A few additional reading assignments may be given during the semester. I will provide you with easy access to these readings if and when they are assigned.

  1. McLeod, Jane D. and Eric R. Wright. 2010. The Sociology of Mental Illness: A Comprehensive Reader.  Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-538171-9. Assigned readings from this text are referred to as “SMI” in the weekly schedule.
  2. Karp, David A. and Gretchen E. Sisson. 2010. Voices from the Inside: Readings on the Experiences of Mental Illness. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-537045-4. Assigned readings from this text are referred to as “Voices” in the weekly schedule.


This course is designed to introduce you to the ways in which sociologists think about and study mental health and illness. Specifically, the objectives of the course are for students to be able to:

  1. Identify the major sociological theories and concepts related to mental health and illness
  2. Critically examine how society and individuals influence and are influenced by definitions of mental health and illness
  3. Identify the prevalence and patterns of mental illness in the United States
  4. Discuss the ways in which researchers measure mental health and illness
  5. Describe how social factors such as social isolation, stress, exposure and vulnerability sex and gender, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity contribute to the distribution and experience of mental illness in the population
  6. Explain the impact of labeling and stigma on people with mental illness
  7. Describe the issues that people with mental illness face in the process of making decisions about whether to seek help and treatment


Grading Information and Policy

Reading Responses 10 at 10 points each:                100

Exams 3 at 40 points each:                                       120

In-Class Activities/Assignments 8 at 10 points each: 80

Total Possible Points:                                              300 points

Your final grade will be determined by the percentage of the 300 possible points you earn. The following are the minimum number of points you will need to accumulate to earn each respective final grade. 


Grading Structure

300 - 268 A

267 - 239 B

238 - 209 C

207 - 179 D

178 and below F



All assignments (papers, quizzes, exams, and discussions) are due at 11:59pm on the date listed under the Class Schedule (unless otherwise noted on the schedule). No assignment will ever be due on Friday night. CourseDen goes down for maintenance every Friday between 10pm and midnight. Distance Learning sends out a reminder every week -- never try to submit work (for any course) during that time period.

Readings and Lectures 

You must obtain the textbooks -- it’s a course requirement. Each week, you will have assigned readings from the two required texts listed above. Read all of them each week as soon as possible in order to be equipped to answer questions in assignments, discussions, and exams. See class schedule for readings due each week. You will also be required to read the corresponding powerpoint lecture slides. 

Reading Responses

For 10 weeks of the semester, you will prepare a two-page summary and response to questions about the assigned learning materials. Due to the nature of some weeks/dates, there are weeks during which no reading response is available. These weeks we will not have a reading response: Weeks 1, 6, and 8. You may only complete 10 Reading Responses (no more; if you turn in more than 10, I will grade only the first 10 that you complete. Most of these are due on the Sunday before the week begins; but, there are two exceptions in which it’s due on a Tuesday night. Specifically, in Week 3 (because of MLK Day on Monday) and Week 11 (because an exam is due on Monday). See course schedule for specific due dates. Instructions will be given (along with the questions) during the first week of class..


There are three (3) essay/short answer exams, each worth 50 points.They are over the material in the readings and lectures. These exams will be completed by you (at home) and submitted on CourseDen. They will be made available one week before they are due. I will post a study guide for each one two weeks before the exam is due. The exams are not timed/not in the quizzes section of CourseDen. Rather, the questions are in a Microsoft Word file under “Assessments → Assignments → (Specific Exam Name).” Write in essay format, using complete sentences, correct spelling/grammar, and following any other instructions listed on the exams. See class schedule for due dates.

In-Class Activities

There will be 8 in-class activities. Though the structure of these will vary, the purpose of in-class activities will be for you to apply what you’ve learned. For some of these, you will work alone in class, responding to questions posed about the course material. For others, I may ask you to work with one or two of your classmates. Although I have a policy against using your mobile device for personal use in class, there may be times when I ask you to do an internet search; at these times, you may use your phone, etc. I will inform you of these times. Some of these activities may have take-home portions. Regardless, there are absolutely no makeups on in-class activities. They can only be done in-class on the day I present them (which I will not announce). Come to class everyday!


Notes: Instructor reserves the right to adjust schedule. All due times are 11:59pm. All times are EST. Lectures are available as PDF slides on CourseDen and in narrated format. 

Voices on the Inside = “Voices.” Sociology of Mental Illness: A Comprehensive Reader = “SMI.”



Reading Assignment

Assignment Name & Due Date



Read: Syllabus




Read the following PowerPoint Lecture: 

Introduction to Sociology of Mental Health

Read From SMI:

 pgs. xvii-xxi (introduction)

Read From Voices: 

pgs. 3-9 (introduction)

Other readings/listenings:

Click on this and choose an icon directly below the picture of the notebook to: download or listen to audio, read the transcript, or share the link:




Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Psychiatric Perspectives

Read from SMI: pg. 2 (section introduction); pgs. 3-26 (Conrad & Schneider)

Other readings:

Week 2 Reading Response Due 1/12 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Psychiatric Perspectives (continued) 

Read from SMI: pgs. 26-35 (Bruce)








Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Sociological Perspectives

Read from SMI: pgs. 37-44 (Conrad); pgs. 46-59 (Figert); pgs. 63-73 (Kleinman); pgs. 74-80 (Schulz)

Other readings:

Week 3 Reading Response Due Tuedsay 1/21 by 11:59pm



Read and Listen to the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Prevalence & Patterns of Mental Illness

Read from SMI: pgs. 115-128 (Kessler et al.); pgs. 132-139 (Horwitz & Wakefield)

Read from Voices: pgs. 11-15 (section introduction); pgs. 16-23 (Karp); pgs. 24-32 (Jamison)

Week 4 Reading Response Due 1/26 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Prevalence & Patterns of Mental Illness (cont’d)

Read from Voices: pgs. 33-42 (Vonnegut); pgs. 43-54 (Saks); pgs. 55-60 (Rapoport); pgs. 62-70 (Knapp)




Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Measurement of Mental Health & Illness

Read from SMI: pgs. 83-96 (Switzer, Dew, and Bromet); pgs. 99-107 (Kessler); pgs. 110-114 (Mirowsky & Ross)

Week 5 Reading Response Due 2/2 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Measurement of Mental Health & Illness (cont’d)




Review for Exam 1 in-class

No Reading Response available this week



Stay Home and Submit Exam 1

Exam 1, 2/12 by midnight



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Stress Process

Read from SMI: pgs. 161-167 (Aneshensel);  pgs. 170-186 (Pearlin)

Week 7 Reading Response Due 2/16 by 11:59pm



NO CLASS: Dr. Kirk away at professional conference

Do A5, Part 1 at home by 11:59pm on 2/19



Topic: Social Construction of Mental Illnesses

A5, Part 2 at home by 11:59pm on 2/24

No reading response available this week



Topic: Social Construction of Mental Illnesses (cont’d)




Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Social Isolation, Exposure, & Vulnerability

Read from SMI: pgs. pgs. 189-204 (Thoits); 207-229 (Turner, Wheaton, & Lloyd)

Week 9 Reading Response Due 3/1 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Social Isolation, Exposure, & Vulnerability (cont’d)

Other readings:




Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Social Status: Gender

Read from SMI: pgs. 233-247 (Mirowsky & Ross)

Other readings:

Week 10 Reading Response Due 3/8 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Social Status: Race

Read from SMI: pgs. 336-354 (Williams et al.)

Spring Break runs the week of March 15-21 - Enjoy!



Stay Home, Submit Exam 2

Exam 2, 3/23



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Labeling Theory

Read from SMI: pgs. 409-421 (Scheff); pgs. 422-431 (Gove)

Week 11 Reading Response Due Tuesday 3/24 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Labeling Theory (cont’d)

Read from SMI: pgs. 433-457 (Link et al.); pgs. 460-477 (Pescosolido et al.)

Other Readings:

Week 12 Reading Response Due 3/29 by 11:59pm



Topic: Experiencing the Stigma of Mental Illness

Read from Voices: pgs. 165-168 (section introduction); pp.169-179 (Owen)

Other readings:





Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Mental Illness as a Career & Identity

Read from SMI:

pgs. pgs. 480-509 (Goffman & Corrigan); pgs. 528-545 (Karp)

Read from Voices:

 pgs. 125-137 (Slater)

Other Readings:

Week 13 Reading Response Due 4/5 by 11:59pm



Topic: Mental Illness as a Career & Identity (continued)




Mental Illness as a Career & Identity (cont’d)

Other Readings:

Week 14 Reading Response Due 4/12 by 11:59pm



Read the following PowerPoint Lecture:

Mental Health Policy & Treatment

Read from SMI: pgs. 569-582 (Morrissey & Goldman)




Mental Health Policy & Treatment (cont’d)

Read from Voices: pgs. 109-119 (Schiller); pgs. 193-205 (Earley); pgs. 206-215 (Winerip)

Review the following websites and associated resources:

Week 15 Reading Response Due 4/19 by 11:59pm



Review for Exam 3

16 (finals)


Exam 3 due April 27 by 11:59pm

Course Policies and Resources

Communication Rules

As I reserve the right to change the schedule, assignments, or requirements, I will announce changes on CourseDen “Announcements” or via Courseden email. It is your responsibility to regularly check both the “Announcements” on Courseden and your Courseden email regularly. Regardless of the means through which they are communicated, you are responsible for being aware of and complying with all course announcements and reminders. Also, in order to be successful in this course, you must actively participate while conducting yourself in a professional manner (includes, but is not limited to being respectful to me and the other students).

Expected Response Times

Students can expect me to be online and available on Google Hangouts/Chat during my online office hours, but I will also check in once during the weekend. I am strongly committed to grading your work in a timely manner and providing you with feedback to help you understand why you earned a certain grade and what you can do to improve on future quizzes, assignments, or exams. I am often able to post grades and provide feedback within a week of the due date, but please be patient if/when that is not the case. It is your responsibility to keep track of your course grades and progress (with the help of the “grades” tab on CourseDen, where grades for all submitted work will be posted and updated) throughout the semester. If you become concerned about a particular quiz, assignment, exam, or your overall grade and/or progress in the course, please contact me as soon as possible. The earlier potential problems are identified, the more we can do to help you improve and succeed.

Classroom Rules

Electronic Devices and Food

Cell phones should be turned off and/or silenced during class. Using your phone for any purpose during class is prohibited. Laptops are permitted in the classroom but should only be used to take notes for class. Using a laptop for anything other than in course note-taking will result in a significant reduction and will result in laptops no longer being allowed in class. Eating and drinking in class are fine, as long as you avoid disturbing other students and clean up after yourself.


You are expected to conduct yourself in a professional and respectful manner toward the instructor and your fellow classmates. Disrespectful and otherwise rude behavior, whether verbal or nonverbal will result in your expulsion from my classroom for the period and a report will be filed with the Office of Academic Affairs.

Classroom Etiquette: 

Communication in a college class takes special consideration. Please read the short list of tips below:

  • Be sensitive and reflective to what others are saying.
  • Don't flame - These are outbursts of extreme emotion or opinion.
  • Think before you speak. 
  • Don't use offensive language.
  • Be forgiving. Anyone can make a mistake.
  • Keep the dialog collegial and professional.

Late Work Policy

As unexpected events sometimes interrupt our life plans, you should do your work earlier rather than later. Unexpected events could range from an old friend coming to town for a surprise visit for only one day to an illness that keeps you in bed for a week or the death of a loved one. Since you know now when all the assignments are due, your lack of time management will not result in an extension. To receive full credit, all work must be submitted on time. Assignments turned in late without advance approval will be penalized a letter grade for each day they are late. In-class activities will not be announced ahead of time and cannot be made up without university authorized excuse for missing class. Similarly, exams cannot be made up without a documented university-authorized excuse. If you do end up missing a graded in-class exercise or exam because of an authorized absence, I will work with you individually to schedule a make-up session.

Academic Dishonesty

When you enrolled at UWG, you made a pledge to uphold the beliefs and values of the university honor code, and should a violation of those values occur, you will be held accountable and accept responsibility for your actions by accepting the sanctions imposed. 

Consult the Honor Code and Appendix C of the Student Handbook as I stand firmly by it. Breach of this code will result in a report to the Office of Community Standards, a failing grade for the assignment, and possibly a failing grade for the course, regardless of prior point accumulation. Points lost due to academic dishonesty may not be replaced through extra credit.

Students should familiarize themselves with the University’s policies on academic integrity:

If you are having trouble understanding how to cite references, please refer to the Writing Help Module on CourseDen and/or visit the University Writing Center.

Attendance/Tardy Policy

Attendance is required. Students must attend this course every day in the first two weeks of class (except if adding the course during that time period) in order to be considered as "attending class" for the purposes of university roster verification. Students who do not may be dropped from the class for non-attendance. Students who add classes during drop/add are responsible for ensuring that they are verified as being in attendance by contacting the course instructor and attending class on-time. Late attendees to class will be marked as absent and will not have the opportunity to complete any in-class assignments that they may have missed. If an exam is being given in class, after the first student is finished and leaves the classroom, no late students will be admitted.


It is critically important that you keep up with weekly readings and assignments, as there will not be time to catch up later. It also means that you should plan to work ahead on reading and viewing lectures notes as your schedule permits; in fact, some assignments require that you read ahead. The exact reading load will vary from week to week, and some chapters are a bit easier to digest than others, but in general, you should expect to spend at least one hour reading and taking notes on each assigned reading.

Protecting Your Work

I highly recommend that you make at least one electronic copy of everything you submit for the course, but two copies (in two separate locations - e.g., hard drive, jump drive, cloud drive) is preferable. Do not, under any circumstance, share your work with others. Sharing your work is equivalent to cheating under the Honor Code, and will result in a failing grade for the course.

Course Web Site, Technology Policy & Requirements

You need to know how to use the following technology in order to take this course: the internet, browsers, CourseDen. If you have questions about this, please contact Distance Education at 678.839.6248 or [email protected] . Distance Education has a 24-Hour Help: 1-855-772-0423 or search Login by visiting

Accessibility Information to Instructor

If you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, you should contact me at the beginning of the semester or when you are given an assignment for which an accommodation is required. Students with disabilities must verify their eligibility through Accessibility Services which is located in the Counseling Center, 123 Row Hall, 678-839-6428 (also 6429). Accessibility Services Website. You must provide me with an electronic copy of your student accessibility report by the end of the first week of classes (or the end of the week in which you are given an accommodation letter by Accessibility Services (if in the middle of a semester).

College Policies

Common Language for Course Syllabi

Please see the Common Language for Course Syllabi for official information on UWG’s Academic Integrity Policy. Note that I will enforce this policy.

Institutional Policies

Academic Support

Accessibility Services: Students with a documented disability may work with UWG Accessibility Services to receive essential services specific to their disability. All entitlements to accommodations are based on documentation and USG Board of Regents standards. If a student needs course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability or chronic illness, or if he/she needs to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, the student should notify his/her instructor in writing and provide a copy of his/her Student Accommodations Report (SAR), which is available only from Accessibility Services. Faculty cannot offer accommodations without timely receipt of the SAR; further, no retroactive accommodations will be given. For more information, please contact Accessibility Services.

Center for Academic Success: The Center for Academic Success provides services, programs, and opportunities to help all undergraduate students succeed academically. For more information, contact them: 678-839-6280 or [email protected]

University Writing Center: The University Writing Center assists students with all areas of the writing process. For more information, contact them: 678-839-6513 or [email protected]

Online Courses

UWG takes students’ privacy concerns seriously: technology-enhanced and partially and fully online courses use sites and entities beyond UWG and students have the right to know the privacy policies of these entities. For more information on privacy and accessibility for the most commonly used sites, as well as technology requirements visit the UWG Online site.

Students enrolled in online courses can find answers to many of their questions in the Online/Off-Campus Student Guide.

If a student is experiencing distress and needs help, please see the resources available at the UWG Cares site. Online counseling is also available for online students.

Honor Code

At the University of West Georgia, we believe that academic and personal integrity are based upon honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. Students at West Georgia assume responsibility for upholding the honor code. West Georgia students pledge to refrain from engaging in acts that do not maintain academic and personal integrity. These include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, aid of academic dishonesty, lying, bribery or threats, and stealing. 

The University of West Georgia maintains and monitors a confidential Academic Dishonesty Tracking System. This database collects and reports patterns of repeated student violations across all the Colleges, the Ingram Library, and the School of Nursing. Each incidence of academic dishonesty is subject to review and consideration by the instructor, and is subject to a range of academic penalties including, but not limited to, failing the assignment and/or failing the course. Student conduct sanctions range from verbal warning to suspension or expulsion depending on the magnitude of the offense and/or number of offenses. The incident becomes part of the student’s conduct record at UWG.

Additionally, the student is responsible for safeguarding his/her computer account. The student’s account and network connection are for his/her individual use. A computer account is to be used only by the person to whom it has been issued. The student is responsible for all actions originating through his/her account or network connection. Students must not impersonate others or misrepresent or conceal their identities in electronic messages and actions. For more information on the University of West Georgia Honor Code, please see the Student Handbook.

UWG Email Policy

University of West Georgia students are provided a MyUWG e-mail account. The University considers this account to be an official means of communication between the University and the student. The purpose of the official use of the student e-mail account is to provide an effective means of communicating important university related information to UWG students in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to check his or her email.

Credit Hour Policy

The University of West Georgia grants one semester hour of credit for work equivalent to a minimum of one hour (50 minutes) of in-class or other direct faculty instruction AND two hours of student work outside of class per week for approximately fifteen weeks. For each course, the course syllabus will document the amount of in-class (or other direct faculty instruction) and out-of-class work required to earn the credit hour(s) assigned to the course. Out-of-class work will include all forms of credit-bearing activity, including but not limited to assignments, readings, observations, and musical practice. Where available, the university grants academic credit for students who verify via competency-based testing, that they have accomplished the learning outcomes associated with a course that would normally meet the requirements outlined above (e.g. AP credit, CLEP, and departmental exams).

HB 280 (Campus Carry)

UWG follows University System of Georgia (USG) guidance:

You may also visit our website for help with USG Guidance:

Mental Health Support

If you or another student find that you are experiencing a mental health issue, free confidential services are available on campus in the Counseling Center. Students who have experienced sexual or domestic violence may receive confidential medical and advocacy services with the Patient Advocates in Health Services. To report a concern anonymously, please go to UWGcares.

Additional Items


Smarthinking offers online tutoring services and resources (including the Writing Center) for UWG students/instructors in all courses. A link to Smarthinking is available in CourseDen under Resources in the navigation bar.